Perdue’s Pillowtex ‘baggage’ could hurt in race against Nunn
by Don McKee
May 26, 2014 12:00 AM | 5257 views | 2 2 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
The race between businessman David Perdue and Congressman Jack Kingston for a U.S. Senate seat pits a novice against a career politician. The winner gets to face another novice, Democrat Michele Nunn, and the popularity legacy of her father, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn.

In the primary, Perdue received 30.6 percent of the vote and Kingston 25.8 percent. Third with 22 percent was Karen Handel, former Georgia secretary of state, while four other candidates split the rest of the votes. How will the 43 percent that didn’t vote for Perdue or Kingston vote in the July 22 runoff?

Kingston can expect endorsements from fellow Congressmen-candidates Phil Gingrey of Marietta, who got 10 percent of the primary vote, and Paul Broun of Athens, who had 9.6 percent. Kingston has the sort of conservative credentials that appeal to Handel’s base, and the same goes for Gingrey’s and Broun’s as well as the other six Republican congressmen’s constituencies.

It’s hard to believe that Karen Handel would support Perdue, who handed her a big put-down during the primary campaign. Without naming her, he referred to “a high school graduate in this race,” and added, “I’m sorry, but these issues are so much broader, so complex.” He later apologized to Handel, who left an abusive home to work as a teenager and did not get a college education.

Kingston was elected to Congress in 1992 after eight years in the Georgia House. He’s a fiscal and social conservative. He voted against the TARP bailout and stimulus package, is co-sponsor of the FairTax bill and has voted more than 40 times to repeal Obamacare.

Perdue’s business career includes impressive success stories — starting up Asian operations for Sara Lee and negotiating a “revolutionary” contract with the NFL as CEO of Reebok. But there’s a potential downside, a la Mitt Romney, to whom Perdue is compared by virtue of business acumen and wealth. It’s the story of Pillowtex, a North Carolina textile company that hired Perdue after emerging from bankruptcy and facing a huge bank loan, a flood of import competition and an underwater pension plan. Perdue couldn’t raise the capital needed and resigned after seven months in March 2003. Four months later, Pillowtex announced it was shuttering 16 plants and eliminating 6,450 jobs. North Carolina lost 4,000 jobs, the largest single loss in the state’s history. Right or wrong, Perdue gets blamed.

Kingston has already made Pillowtex an issue, echoing attacks on presidential candidate Romney as a “vulture capitalist” for some of his business turnaround efforts. This kind of attack could seriously hurt Perdue in a race against Michele Nunn. Indeed, a reporter for the London-based Guardian visited Georgia and offered this intelligence: “Privately, top Democratic party officials are most hopeful about a race against Perdue, believing a ruthless business career will come back to haunt him.” Ruthless? It’s another indicator of a Perdue vulnerability Kingston does not have.

All things considered, Kingston looks like the better choice for Republicans.

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Honest Abe
May 27, 2014
I think Perdue has a name recognition issue in his campaign. I first thought he was the guy who sold processed chickens! And for some reason I still do.
Diamond Jim
May 27, 2014
I didn't vote for Jack Kingston primarily for two reasons: First, as an incumbent Congressman and career politician, he's been part of the group of knuckleheads now in Washington who have gotten the country into the debt-ridden nightmare it is today. None of those people should be returned to office.

Secondly, Kingston was very quick, as was Phil Gingrey, to go negative in his campaign, running attack ads and sending out mailers containing false accusations and misleading information. I for one am sick of the mudslinging that has characterized the last two election cycles.

And now we see Kingston engaging in more of the same with the Pillowtex ploy. Consider this, Jack: If Perdue wins the runoff, then all you have accomplished is to hand Michelle Nunn, who has no real qualifications other than being Sam's daughter,an "issue" (if one chooses to view it as such)she can use in pandering to the segment of our population whose major interest is getting some type of government check or subsidy, and those who buy into the the Democrat "victimization" narrative: anyone who has achieved success must have done so by cheating, stealing, and exploiting the "working" class. Certainly it could not have been the result of hard work, smart decisions, and personal sacrifice!!

Kingston is an idiot. If Karen Handel refuses to support whomever wins the runoff, she is an even bigger idiot. Such behavior, in addition to confirming the judgement of the voters who did not award her a spot in the runoff, would help Nunn's campaign. We don't need another "community organizer" in Washington.
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